Naval Heritage Centenary

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The Christmas pudding from the Boer War

Presentation of the Nellie to a film maker of the Face to Face Project

Nelson's chair before restorationBand of HM Royal Marines play at the launch of the National Museum of the Royal Navy 18th September 2009

Fisrt Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope officially launches the National Museum of the Royal Navy September 18th 2009

Chairman of Trustees Admiral Sir Peter Abbott gives speech

Museum News

March 2012


In a ground-breaking enterprise the Ministry of Defence has decided to transfer the custodianship of HMS Victory, the world’s most iconic ship, to the HMS Victory Preservation Trust, a charitable trust established as part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy to ensure the preservation of Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar for future generations.

he move has been heralded by the announcement of a £25 million capital grant to support the new Trust by the Gosling Foundation, an amount which the Ministry of Defence has agreed to match with a further £25 million. This endowment totalling £50 million, with the opportunity of further charitable donations, will ensure that Victory will remain the centrepiece of the nation’s maritime heritage, continuing as a commissioned ship of the Royal Navy under her Commanding Officer and ship’s company.

Victory will remain the flagship of the Second Sea Lord until, as previously planned, she is made the flagship of the First Sea Lord. This enhancement in Victory’s status will reinforce the ship’s continuing special position within the Royal Navy

The full press release can be read here.

November 2011

Heritage Lottery Fund grant will help to tell Navy’s story

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded just over £1.4m to the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to create new exhibitions on the Navy in the 20th and 21st Centuries, it was announced today. 

The confirmed grant will help tell the story of the Royal Navy since 1900, a largely untold part of our maritime heritage. The 18th century Storehouse 10, built in 1776, is one of the finest Georgian storehouses in the UK and will be completely restored providing new exhibition spaces for the museum’s vast collections. Storehouse 10 will be connected to Storehouse 11 enabling the museum to showcase four centuries of our important naval history properly for the first time. State-of-the-art interactive displays and exhibitions will help bring the collections alive and into the 21st century for everyone, especially young people, to learn from and enjoy.

 Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF for the South East, said: “This project has the potential to entertain, intrigue and delight. Maritime and particularly naval heritage in the 20th and 21st centuries is currently underrepresented in our museums, and this award to the NMRN in Portsmouth will help to address that. The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to award this substantial investment which will not only help to bring our impressive maritime heritage alive but boost tourism too.”

This is fantastic news”, says Dr Dominic Tweddle, Director-General of the NMRN.  “Despite the remarkable achievements of the men and women of the Senior Service over the past 100 years, there is no single exhibition in this country that tells their story.  We can now put that right – and do so here in Portsmouth, the home of the Navy. This means we have now raised £3.2 million out of the £4.5 million we need and will encourage others to join us in reaching our final total. There is no time to lose; we are determined to have the new exhibitions opened by 2014, the centenary of the start of World War I, so the Museum can be at the centre of marking the Navy’s vital role. It is also positive that by the time these galleries open NMRN will have invested £11.1m in the Portsmouth area, with more to come” 

The project will enable a 400% increase in the space available for exhibitions on the Navy and its people since 1900. A Special Exhibitions Gallery will also be added, giving the museum the chance to create 2 new exhibitions a year which can showcase new collections, commemorate anniversaries and bring a changing attraction to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  It also includes a dynamic programme of events and activities to help local schools, veterans and families discover and understand how the Navy has shaped their heritage. With a new Community Outreach Officer the Museum is going to be even more active outside the Dockyard wall and there will be many opportunities for volunteers to get involved. A variety of themed activities will include: 'World at War', looking at the links between the Royal Navy and the rest of the world; 'Community Curators', helping local people to curate their own exhibitions; and the 'Sea Life and Community Road Show'; enabling local schools to get more hands on.

The Navy has faced unprecedented changes and challenges since 1900”, says Matthew Sheldon, the Museum’s Project Director.  “We want these exhibitions to convey this through the real things and the real voices of the men and women who lived, worked and fought to create this history. The new galleries will feature amazing stories of how past generations faced these challenges and also look forward to what the Navy faces now and might face in the future.

For information on how you can help to support the project click here

To read the full press release, download here

World's oldest Christmas pudding?

With thoughts turning towards the festive season, the Museum has been given a historic festive artefact .... a Christmas pudding sent to the Naval Brigades in South African Boer War by Agnes Weston - still in its tin.

Collections Manager, Victoria Ingles explains: “We received a call from a lady wanting to know if we would be interested in a tinned Christmas pudding. It had been in her kitchen cupboard since her husband’s death but she knew little else about it other than it had been in his family for many years so this sparked our interest to try and find out more.”

Stored in a decorative tin, the 111 year old plum pudding is clearly showing signs of age but the message can still be read: “For the Naval Brigade, In the Front, With Miss Weston’s Best Christmas & New Year, 1900, Wishes.”

Agnes Weston was interested in the welfare of the navy's lower decks, founded the Royal Naval Sailor's Rests and was a strong believer in temperance. One of her ideas was to send a Christmas pudding to the men of the Naval Brigades serving out in South Africa - of course it was a temperance pudding with no alcohol.

Having discovered the personal background to the production of the pudding, Victoria Ingles adds: “It is quite remarkable that the pudding has survived for over 100 years. It is the only example we know of issued to the Naval Brigade still in existence and quite possibly the oldest surviving Christmas pudding too!”

The pudding now needs to undergo some conservation work but will be temporarily on display in the museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas (Fri 25th – Sun 27th November, 2011, along with some WWI and WWII navy rations including an orange and some chocolate, as well as a more recent Christmas box sent to the Navy on operations in Iraq.

October 2011

Forthcoming event


Matthew B Wills - In the Highest Traditions of the Royal Navy - The Life of Captain John Leach MVO DSO: An exemplary life of valour, dedication and sacrifice

The author will be visiting the Museum from America to deliver a lecture and signing of his recently published book.

Free lecture, booking essential. Please call 02392 727582 or email:

For more details, please download our leaflet here

Promoting our Navy Today

While it is easy to think our past is just that – in the past – these leaflets highlighting the activities of today’s Royal Navy show that while the equipment and people might have changed – the fundamental tasks that the Royal Navy is carrying out day in, day out, would be very familiar to almost every generation of sailors, politicians and the public since the seventeenth century.

Download the leaflets below and learn more about our current Navy

The Royal Navy of the future

The Royal Navy protecting our nations interests

The Royal Navy and a cross government approach to security

The Royal Navy and global trade security

The Royal Navys current operations

The Royal Navy and Libya

September 2011

HMS Victory Exhibition: Bones of Oak and Iron

A new free exhibition has opened which looks at the past restoration and current conservation of the great ship. For more information follow this link

July 2011

Victory Mast removal

Watch the mast of HMS Victory being removed for restoration - including some amazing footage from the crane hook.

New Found Treasures exhibition opens

A special exhibition of newly commissioned works by nine artists inspired from the collections held in the museum are to be displayed among previously unseen works "found" in the collections.

The exhibition runs from 6th July to 30th December 2011 and is free with a valid attraction ticket.

For more details download a poster

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